Holding virtual events has become increasingly advantageous for all kinds of brands, businesses, and individuals across the globe in 2020 and 2021 following the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the way we live our lives.
In fact, cutting out factors like travel and accommodation expenses and time commitments has meant that potentially more speakers and attendees alike are available to participate in virtual events where they might not have been able to invest in attending a physical event.
Despite the seismic shift in how we are having to operate as businesses in societies, the world must keep on spinning and we have found a way to move our lives online, setting a trend along the way that is likely here to stay. As much as our audiences have jumped on board with virtualizing their experiences from their living rooms in this situation, it does remain a challenging task to create a virtual event that is as engaging as a real-life experience.
Making your online event as realistic and rewarding for your consumers as possible requires a lot of forethought, so make sure you are aware of our eight top tips to ensure your event hits the mark and truly reaches your audience in the way you need it to.
1. Your Team
Firstly, it has to be acknowledged that creating a virtual event requires a huge amount of work from your team. You’ll need to be organized in allocating tasks to the best individuals for the job and ensuring that everybody is aware of the goals you have for the event.
Good communication amongst your team members during the lead-up to your event will be crucial for success to ensure that everybody is on the same page and spreading the same message. Make use of the individual online presence each of your team members have in pulling in different groups of attendees.
The more diversity you can create in your team and as a result your audience, the better for your business. Don’t be afraid to appeal online for help in pulling in a more diverse range of speakers for your event if you don’t already have the connections required for this within your business.
2. Your Commitment
Secondly, set aside enough time to plan your event properly. You cannot afford to underestimate the amount of legwork a virtual event requires, despite not requiring a physical location to host a large crowd.
You’ll need to create a website and maintain it with updates to keep your audience interested and committed to attending; after all, it is very easy to forget to attend a virtual event.
Researching your content, your promotional opportunities, and obtaining funding or swag for the event will all take the time invested in communicating with outside parties who do not have your event listed as top of their priorities.
3. Your Platform
One of the most important decisions you will need to make on this journey is which platform you are going to use for your online event as this can make or break how successful you will be in both attracting and engaging your audience.
Try to find a platform that will be as user-friendly as possible for your target audience and ideally one that they are already familiar with using. This platform should also be sophisticated enough to allow integration from other apps however so that your event can really have all of the bells and whistles making it stand out, as well as having features that allow all of your partners in the event to contribute easily.
Make sure that your attendees, your speakers, and all-importantly your sponsors can use your chosen platform easily to engage with each other and achieve the visibility that they expect from this kind of collaboration.
4. Your Audience
Obviously, the aforementioned considerations to be made regarding your choice of platform mean that you need to know your audience well, and this may take some extra research and data analysis just to ensure that you are up to date with the habits of your target audience.
This not only applies to knowing which kind of platform they are likely to be comfortable with using, but also what time of day it will be best to schedule your event, how long it should run for and what kind of content is going to appeal to the best.
5. Your Technology
Obviously, the online world for all its convenience isn’t without its technological glitches. This can present a nightmare for any level of the online event so it is something you need to have completely covered in terms of recording kit and rehearsals.
Having the right equipment is going to make a world of difference to the quality of the content you can provide, so invest in the best microphone and camera that you possibly can for clarity of sound and image. Make sure that all of your team members are familiar with using this kind of technology prior to the event so that there are no last-minute failures that leave anybody hanging or awkwardly cut off.
6. Your Content
Bringing in a diverse range of contributors as mentioned in step one will automatically provide you with a great range of exciting ideas and inspiration for what to include in your virtual event.
However, you will have to invest a lot of time into researching the topics you intend to cover and making sure that you back your speakers up with all of the relevant supporting content that they need.
Try to appeal to your audience via a variety of mediums, whether you use video or sound clips, graphs, interactive polls, or annotated images. It is worth investing in high-quality graphics here in order to maintain a professional image for the event and for all of the companies involved.
7. Your Promotion
It’s a well-known fact that if you don’t advertise your event, you won’t attract an audience.
Plan your promotion well in advance in the build-up to your event date with scheduled social media releases and automated emails to your existing customer bases.
You can build up anticipation for your event by introducing your key speakers early and providing sneak peeks into the content that they will be providing on the night. You can also entice your followers to attend by offering specific deals for event attendees or exclusive access to certain aspects of your business or even a virtual swag bag to up the glamour levels.
8. Your Sponsors
Whether your online event is going to be held for free or will be charging paid admission, you should consider getting sponsorship for it. Not only will an event sponsor help you fund the event itself in terms of hours of work put in, equipment and graphics put in, and fees for outside speakers but it will also boost the credibility of the event in the eyes of your target audience. You’ll also be able to expand your audience to those who are involved with the sponsor you collaborate with.
Make sure you choose a sponsor or multiple sponsors that are relevant to you but also open up diverse avenues to expand into, and particularly sponsors who can provide useful help in the build-up to your event. Not all sponsors will provide assistance in the form of funding, but a good link to make in terms of holding virtual events would be to team up with a tech company that can provide you with a high-quality recording system for example.
Sponsors can also be targeted to help incentivize attendance with tempting merchandise or collaboration opportunities.
While the above advice might seem like a lot to take in, do not let it put you off hosting a virtual event. Pulling off a successful online event that truly engages you with your audience is one of the most rewarding experiences you can get as a business owner or an individual, and although it requires a lot of energy invested in its creation, being much more than a one-day event as it appears to viewers, it will likely benefit your business for years to come.
Remember, know what you want to achieve, to begin with, and build a team that will support you in creating that. With the right levels of commitment from the right people, you’ll have fun coming up with creative ways to make your event enjoyable in an online setting.
Take advantage of the latest developments in apps, platforms, recording technology, and graphics to make your event look the part, while simultaneously ensuring audience engagement isn’t too complex to use or that your team are likely to make mistakes on the night due to using technology they aren’t familiar with.
Support your event with sponsors who will help you create it and also promote it to a wider audience, tempting your attendees with exciting merchandise. Tick all of these boxes and you can’t go wrong, so get started with planning your virtual event today and enjoy the process as well as the results!